Dear ITEM Next Gen Partners,
I shared the platform today with representatives of Apologetics on Mission (Oregon City, Oregon). I began the day introducing the topic of “apologetics.” If I were to reduce “apologetics” to it’s basic meaning and application, it is a call to ALL of us to be effective at defending the faith and answering questions we are asked about “the faith.” I told them I didn’t want to be called an apologist because we are ALL to be apologists. It is not anything special. It is not an office of the NT church.
I covered the what is and why do apologetics (it’s biblical and necessary). Then I went over worldviews where I trace the history of worldview development and how we got to where we are in this postmodern age. Doug of AoM showed how Jesus used apologetics. I then did my talk on God’s story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and New Creation, showing how once we understand God’s story we can better frame our conversations with unbelievers and skeptics. Then one of AoMs disciples form Uganda talked on “The Problem of Suffering and Evil” which is a constant line of questioning from unbelievers. “If God is good and powerful, why doesn’t he do something about the suffering and evil in the world?”
As I mentioned yesterday, the attendees knew little to nothing about the nuts and bolts of apologetics. As we finished the day today, there was a discussion about the next steps. AoM has a complete certificate program taught by degreed apologists. And the attendees seemed very interested in tapping into their training. To be honest, when it was my turn I was kinda tongue tied. (Steve, tongue tied?). They have fancy color brochures, and stickers, flyers, and brought trainees from Uganda with them, and have stories of online training of people from various countries. Me, I handed out a double sided black and white sheet with the talks I can give and a short statement about my “call” from the Lord. But what it did is cause me to think hard about my intended audiences and desires. I intend to take a few minutes to talk about it tomorrow before I have to leave to head back to Nairobi.
My desire is to speak directly to the next generation of leaders for the church in Africa, work with youth leaders to equip them, and speak to pastors who are thinkers and who want to be effective working with the next gen. I know I am in the home stretch of my ministry years. I hope it is a long home stretch. And for however long it is, I want to be very strategic and “shoot with a rifle not with a shot gun.”
One thing seemed obvious to me today. One good tactic of doing “apologetics” is learning to answer questions with a question, and keep asking question. A series of strategic questions can lead the other person to walk away from the discussion, questioning their own ideas. Well, as attendees talked about some of the questions we might be asked, they immediately went on the defense and said, “I’d tell them ‘this or that.’ “ And during the discussion on suffering and evil, one attendee said he was preaching about this in his church, telling the members “suffering is a part of the Christian life.” But I had to remind them that there are various causes of suffering. Suffering is never “one size fits all.” And there were the expected comments like, “God works all things together for good…” and “Well, like it says about Joseph, what man intends for evil, God intends for good.” These verses are true but when person is suffering emotionally about something that may have happened to a friend or relative, they don’t need to have Scripture quoted to them right then. They need someone to listen to them and share their pain.
As you can see, “Apologetics” (I prefer “faith-defending) is not as simple as memorizing answers. It requires the art of truly listening and empathizing. You might not get beyond that in an initial meeting. Apologetics (faith-defending) often begins with listening, asking questions, listening more, and asking more questions, then repeat the process.
IF ANY OF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE, LET ME KNOW. WE’LL WORK SOMETHING OUT.
It is heading towards 9pm here and I still need to upload pictures and pack before getting to bed.
I need to take my luggage with me in the morning. I’ll be at the seminar until about 12:30 or 1pm then leave for the airport to catch my 4pm flight back to Nairobi in advance of one final seminar Friday.
Thanks for praying. Please continue.
For a strong vision and commitment form those in attendance here.
For God to be clear in communicating to me if I have a role as we move forward here.
For the seminar Friday at Intl Leadership University, that I’ll be clear and the attendees will be challenges.
By His grace,